Before going to the story of the temple, a brief introduction of the town of Talakad becomes necessary.
Talakad is a small, but historic town on the South Karnataka, dotted with many temples of ancient origin. The peculiarity is that most part of the town is buried under the sand dunes of River Kaveri, which flows nearby. It is said, there are more than 30 temples buried under the river sand around Talakkad. Once in 12 years the sand is removed during the Pancha Linga darsana festival. This time the town of Talakkad gets crowded with the devotees.
Sri Vaidyanatheswara temple is the foremost among the Talakad temples.
Legend is that two demons called Tala and Kaad accidentally struck a tree while on hunting. Immediately, blood started oozing out from the tree. The bewildered demons heard a divine voice that the tree represents Lord Shiva himself. On instruction from Lord Shiva the demons applied special leaves and flowers on the tree and there by healed it. The demons started worshipping Lord Shiva at the place where the tree stood. Since, Lord Shiva healed his own wound, he became Vaidyanntheseara (‘’Vaidya’’ means modern doctor)
The Panchalinga darshan, which occurs every 12 years, is an important festival. For this festival the river sand surrounding the area is removed and all the temples that were buried in sand come to limelight.
During the Panchalinga darshan festival, devotees take darshan at five Lord Shiva temples in Talakad in a single day. The darshan starts from Vaidyanatheswara temple, followed by Shiva temples at Arkeshwara, Pataleswara , Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna. All these temples are in and around Vaidyanatheswara temple. Devotees also take darshan at Sri Kriti Narayana temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu to complete the ritual.
The Vaidyanatheswara temple is built in typical Dravidian style. Historians say the original temple is built by the Ganga rulers. Later, the Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar and Mysore Maharajas made valuable additions.
There is an interesting story on why the town of Talakkad was buried in river sand. Legend says, it is due to the curse of a pious lady, called Smt.Alamelu Amma, on the Wodeyar royal dynasty of Mysore. According to it, Smt. Almelu Amma had a nose jewel, which was precious and rare. The then Mysore Maharaja tried to get possession of it by force. Unable to defend herself, Smt. Almelu Amma jumped into River Kaveri at Tallakad.
But, before dying she said to have cursed that the town of Talakad shall be buried under the river sand in due course and that the Wodeyar rulers of Mysore shall not have legal heirs to the thrown from then on.
The tradition holds that both these curses were came to be true. Once vibrant Talakad town is now buried under sand dunes and the Wodeyar dynasty struggled much to get a legal heir to it’s thrown after this incident.
But, it should also be noted that, the experts contest this belief saying that the uncommon sand formation in this area is due to a sharp change of course by the river Kaveri at this place; not due to the curse as such!
Talakad is about 45 kilometers from Mysore.